Computers https://mag.uchicago.edu/tags/computers en Auto-Tune on steroids https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/auto-tune-steroids <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1611_Chung_Autotune-steriods_1.jpg" width="2000" height="929" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Wed, 11/23/2016 - 09:38</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Sam Pluta during a 2014 performance with trumpet player Peter Evans. (<a href="https://vimeo.com/114201582" target="_blank">Video still</a> courtesy Sam Pluta)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/jeanie-chung"> <a href="/author/jeanie-chung"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Jeanie Chung</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">11.23.2016</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>For Sam Pluta, music is the ultimate computer game.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Music is information, says Sam Pluta. A series of signals your brain receives and interprets. <a href="https://music.uchicago.edu/page/sam-pluta" target="_blank">Pluta</a>, an assistant professor in the Department of Music and director of the <a href="http://music.uchicago.edu/page/chime-studio" target="_blank">Chicago Integrated Media Experimental Studio</a>, is interested in what happens when you “add information” to that signal. In his <a href="http://humanitiesday.uchicago.edu" target="_blank">Humanities Day</a> lecture, “Information as Beauty in Musical Software Design,” Pluta discussed the <a href="http://www.sampluta.com" target="_blank">musical performance software</a> he created 14 years ago and has used ever since. With his software, the Live Modular Instrument (LMI), Pluta can delay sounds, filter out one or more areas of the sound spectrum, and use synthesizer effects that change the sound itself. It’s a bit like Auto-Tune on steroids.</p> <div class="story-inline-img"> <figure role="group"><img alt="Sam Pluta's set-up" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="7497a9a2-22b9-4ef1-adad-1d101de0ed55" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/1611_Chung_Autotune-steriods_spotA.jpg" /><figcaption>Pluta’s set-up. (Photo courtesy Sam Pluta)</figcaption></figure></div> <p>Pluta runs LMI on an iPad and a touchpad called a manta. The manta is made of wood and metal and looks decidedly analogue; maybe like some kind of steampunk video game console. He needs an interface, of course, and a sound mixer to protect audiences from the occasional unintended ear-piercing shriek. Hit the wrong note on a piano during a jazz improvisation and it sounds inelegant; hit the wrong note when you’re changing the noise spectrum and you could actually cause pain. “So much of the brain is taken up by just making sure you’re not hurting people,” Pluta said. His influences include not only musicians—<a href="http://www.furious.com/perfect/roscoemitchell.html" target="_blank">Roscoe Mitchell</a>, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/18/arts/music/don-buchla-dead.html?_r=0" target="_blank">Don Buchla</a>, <a href="http://tricentricfoundation.org" target="_blank">Anthony Braxton</a>—but also <a href="https://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/" target="_blank">Edward Tufte</a>, a pioneer in the field of data visualization. Like Tufte, he’s interested in the way different types of information work together to present a whole picture. After playing a series of recordings of Bach’s Sarabande from Cello Suite No. 2—run through an increasingly complex set of effects—to demonstrate, Pluta took his process apart for an audience that included a healthy number of computer programmers and musicians. LMI’s nonlinear nature allows Pluta to get into a flow state, to move with the music as any musician would, and not have to stare at a screen constantly. “The challenge I put forth for myself,” he said, “is building a modular system where I have many, many approaches.” He likened his performance to a scene in <em>Iron Man</em> where Iron Man is inside the suit, frantically punching buttons, then moves to another array of buttons to do something entirely different. Pluta’s performances range from heavily rehearsed to completely improvised.</p> <div class="story-inline-img"> <figure role="group"><img alt="Sam Pluta's set-up" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="f3481731-26b5-4abf-a98b-79bd0b3900ca" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/1611_Chung_Autotune-steriods_spotB.jpg" /><figcaption>Pluta’s manta. (Photo courtesy Sam Pluta)</figcaption></figure></div> <p>During the talk he played a video of one of his performances with trumpet player <a href="http://pevans.squarespace.com" target="_blank">Peter Evans</a>. Run through Pluta’s effects, Evans’s trumpet sometimes sounded like a trumpet. At other times it sounded like spitting, an old-fashioned propeller plane, squeals, pops, gongs, an alarm clock beeping, train whistles, a human voice, static, and tape hiss. At other times it sounded like nothing at all, even though Evans was clearly playing. The performance was utterly watchable. It also prompted serious contemplation of the dimensions of a single musical note, how we listen to music, why we listen to music, and what music is. “Sometimes the sounds we make are described as violent or aggressive,” Pluta said, “and they are.” But what is also evident in the video is that the musicians are filled with what he calls the “utter joy of playing music together.”</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/arts-humanities" hreflang="en">Arts &amp; Humanities</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/music" hreflang="en">Music</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/technology" hreflang="en">Technology</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/computers" hreflang="en">Computers</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/humanities-division" hreflang="en">Division of the Humanities</a></div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/auto-tune-steroids" data-a2a-title="Auto-Tune on steroids"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Farts-humanities%2Fauto-tune-steroids&amp;title=Auto-Tune%20on%20steroids"></a></span> Wed, 23 Nov 2016 15:38:17 +0000 jmiller 6094 at https://mag.uchicago.edu A pattern of progress https://mag.uchicago.edu/science-medicine/pattern-progress <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1611_Searcy_Pattern-progress.jpg" width="1600" height="743" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Tue, 11/08/2016 - 10:46</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>The Jacquard loom and its punch-card design laid the foundation for computer technology that ran on punch cards (above), such as Alan Turing’s Pilot ACE, completed at National Physical Laboratory in 1951 and in operation for about five years. (iStockPhoto)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/maureen-searcy"> <a href="/author/maureen-searcy"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Maureen Searcy</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/inquiry" hreflang="en">Inquiry</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Fall/16</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>How an automated loom inspired the earliest computer inventors.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>In 1801 French weaver and inventor Joseph Marie Jacquard debuted a “programmable” automated loom* at an industrial exhibition in Paris. What became known as the Jacquard loom was actually an attachment controlled by a chain of punch cards, in which one complete card dictated one row of a pattern. A hook and its corresponding thread were raised or lowered depending on the code, creating intricate patterns that could be quickly replicated by a single weaver. Traditional looms required a weaver and an assistant.</p> <p>The Jacquard loom was one of many automation advancements that marked the Industrial Revolution, transforming the European textile industry. It also set the stage for the invention of computer technology, as noted by School of the Art Institute MFA student Dylan Fish and UChicago mathematics PhD candidate Daniel Johnstone, SM’13, during their May collaboration grant presentation, which explored computational concepts through cloth production.</p> <p>In the early 19th century, English mathematician Charles Babbage designed a calculating machine—the Difference Engine. But it was his follow-up design, the 1834 Analytical Engine—based on Jacquard’s punch cards—that introduced computer programming.</p> <p>Never built in his lifetime, his engines laid the foundation for general-purpose computers, largely thanks to the English poet Lord Byron’s daughter, Ada Lovelace. She had mathematical training and helped popularize the idea that Babbage’s Analytical Engine could perform step-by-step calculations (programs) and move beyond numbers to manipulate symbols using rules.</p> <p>Also inspired by Jacquard’s punch cards was US Census Bureau staff member Herman Hollerith, who was looking for a more efficient way to assess the country’s population. In 1884 he filed a patent for a device that rapidly read information encoded in holes punched on paper, which reduced the census process from eight years to one. Hollerith founded the Tabulating Machine Company, which eventually became IBM.</p> <p>Fast forward to 1951, when the UK’s National Physical Laboratory completed the Pilot ACE (Automatic Computing Engine), a general-purpose computer based on English mathematician Alan Turing’s design. The Pilot ACE used Hollerith 80-column punch-card input and output equipment, with the input device running at 200 cards per minute and the output device at 100 cards per minute.</p> <p>Today’s computers no longer use punch cards, having evolved in leaps and bounds. “As the exponential curve on one technology’s advancement dies out,” says Michael Franklin, the Liew Family Chair of Computer Science, “another technology takes over.”</p> <p>With the exploration of quantum computing, tomorrow’s computer technology likely won’t even be constrained by the laws of classical physics. And it all started with an ambitious weaver.</p> <p><em>* Jacquard’s was not the first automated loom—just the first to be successfully adopted by the textile industry. The first loom using a punched-paper technique was designed around 1750 by French engineer Jacques de Vaucanson, who is also credited with inventing the world’s first robots.</em></p> <div id="extension-is-installed"> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/science-medicine" hreflang="en">Science &amp; Medicine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/computers" hreflang="en">Computers</a></div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/science-medicine/pattern-progress" data-a2a-title="A pattern of progress"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Fscience-medicine%2Fpattern-progress&amp;title=A%20pattern%20of%20progress"></a></span> Tue, 08 Nov 2016 16:46:54 +0000 jmiller 6055 at https://mag.uchicago.edu E-Anthropology https://mag.uchicago.edu/law-policy-society/e-anthropology <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1411_Dialogo-placeholder_11.jpg" width="700" height="325" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Tue, 11/18/2014 - 13:38</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><!-- Gabriella Coleman examines classical anthropological questions in the heart of technology. (Photography by Pierre Arsenault) //--></div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/carrie-golus-ab91-am93"> <a href="/author/carrie-golus-ab91-am93"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Carrie Golus, AB’91, AM’93</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/dialogo" hreflang="en">Dialogo</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Fall 2013/Winter 2014</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Anthropologist Gabriella Coleman conducts research among a strange, sometimes hostile tribe: computer hackers.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>In 2011 Gabriella Coleman, AM’99, PhD’05, the Wolfe chair in scientific and technological literacy at McGill University, was interviewed by journalists more than 80 times.</p> <p>Coleman studies Anonymous, which began as an online hacker group and transformed into a subversive protest group. Anonymous had been around since 2008, when a group of hackers ganged together to harass the Church of Scientology, mostly for the lulz (mean-spirited amusement, a term derived from lol, laughing out loud). In late 2010 the mainstream media began paying attention. That’s when Anonymous, angry that Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal had frozen the accounts of classified-information publisher WikiLeaks, launched an attack that shut down the companies’ servers.</p> <p>Journalists covering the story needed help not only understanding Anonymous but also contacting its secretive, nameless members. “I hold the dubious distinction of teaching roughly two dozen reporters how to find Anonymous and how to get on IRC [Internet Relay Chat] to interview them,” Coleman wrote in an essay for Limn. “I have answered the same questions over and over again in print, in TV, and in film interviews.”</p> <p>For an anthropologist, being in such demand is atypical, says Coleman: “Compared to political scientists, economists, and sociologists, anthropologists are more marginal.” Although the frenzy has calmed, she still spends between five and eight hours a week doing interviews, partly because she wants to convey that anthropologists have something important to contribute and partly because of “the gender issue,” she says. “Mainstream media is still so skewed toward male commentators.”</p> <p>When Coleman came to the University of Chicago for graduate school in the late ‘90s, she planned to write her dissertation on spiritual healing in Guyana. But when she became ill and could not travel to do fieldwork, she had to rethink her plans. During her yearlong recovery, she began researching hackers involved in the open-source software movement, who developed software collaboratively with others, relying on legal agreements mandating access and openness rather than licensing their technology with patents or copyrights.</p> <p>Coleman persuaded her advisers to support her new topic and moved to San Francisco to study the hacker community there. When she tried to explain her research to her professors and other grad students, “It took a while,” she says. “People couldn’t get it. That alone was evidence that there was something interesting going on.”</p> <p>Her thesis, which won the division’s Sol Tax Dissertation Prize, was published as Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking (2012). The book is available for free download as well as for purchase from Princeton University Press. “I felt I had no other choice than to get a Creative Commons license,” says Coleman, since the book is about a community whose entire existence is dedicated to open access. Convincing the publisher took some work; finally, Coleman told her editor, “Publishing a book on free software with copyright is like publishing a Hindu prayer book on leather.” So far almost 50,000 copies have been downloaded.</p> <p>Like her work on open software, Coleman’s research on Anonymous grew out of a circumstance she didn’t choose. In 2006 she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta, which has the largest Scientology archive in the world: “I thought, OK, here I am in the middle of nowhere. It’s literally negative 30 outside. I’ll go do some research.” Coleman developed a theory that Scientology, which many hackers disdained, was “the evil doppelgänger of the hacker world,” she says. “But I was secretive about my project,” because Scientology had a history of taking legal action against academics and critics.</p> <p>Then in 2008 an unexpected development shifted her research focus. The Church of Scientology tried, unsuccessfully, to censor a recruitment video featuring Tom Cruise; Anonymous, which had recently come into being on the online message board 4chan, emerged to protest. (Anyone who does not register as a user on 4chan is displayed as “anonymous,” inspiring the group’s name.)</p> <p>At first the group’s tactics were puerile—sending pizzas to Scientology churches, faxing images of nude body parts—but Anonymous quickly adopted mainstream approaches, “highlighting the church’s use of censorship and abuse of human rights,” Coleman wrote in an article in the online magazine Triple Canopy. “An extempore spout of trolling had thus given birth to an earnest activist endeavor.”</p> <p>Coleman continued to track Anonymous as it transformed into a free-form, controversial political organization, condemned by Fox News as “the Internet hate machine,” a label its members gleefully adopted. Anons, as individual members are called, helped the Arab Spring revolutionaries circumvent government censorship. They leaked the 2012 video of Steubenville, Ohio, football players mocking a rape victim, bringing an otherwise local story to national attention. In 2011 Aaron Barr, CEO of the HBGary security firm, claimed he knew the names of top Anonymous leaders (Anonymous has no leadership; one of their logos is a human body without a head). In response, the group took control of his Twitter account, wiped his iPhone and iPad, and published company documents. “Civil liberties is what they tend to be most attracted to,” says Coleman. “But they’re not bound to any imperative. That makes for extreme flexibility.”</p> <p>During her research, Coleman spent eight hours or more a day on the chat channels. “You can only get to know them by spending an enormous amount of time online,” she says. “Some of their social dynamics”—including the constant chatting—“remind me of small-scale nonliterate groups.” They also tend to control self-promoters. Traditional societies, she notes, usually contain ambitious members by accusing them of witchcraft; similarly, Anons shame members who give too many interviews or otherwise become powerful. “To me, it’s fascinating that there are these classical anthropological questions in the heart of technology.”</p> <p>Coleman’s book on Anonymous, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: From 4chan Lolcats to Anonymous Everywhere, will be published by Verso in fall 2014. “The book is really crazy and fun,” Coleman says. “It’s got conceptual points, but it’s not in an academic veneer at all.” Like Coding Freedom, it will be available for free download. She would like to sell it only in hard copy before posting it online, but she doubts that’s possible: “I’m sure someone from Anonymous will just get that thing up right away.”</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/law-policy-society" hreflang="en">Law, Policy &amp; Society</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/hackers" hreflang="en">Hackers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/computers" hreflang="en">Computers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/anthropology" hreflang="en">Anthropology</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/sociology" hreflang="en">Sociology</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/division-social-sciences" hreflang="en">Division of the Social Sciences</a></div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/law-policy-society/e-anthropology" data-a2a-title="E-Anthropology"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Flaw-policy-society%2Fe-anthropology&amp;title=E-Anthropology"></a></span> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 19:38:20 +0000 jmiller 4098 at https://mag.uchicago.edu